A waitress is seen holding a coffee at a cafe in Canberra. The Fair Work Commission yesterday announced cuts to Sunday and public holiday penalty rated in the retail and hospitality industries.
A waitress is seen holding a coffee at a cafe in Canberra. The Fair Work Commission yesterday announced cuts to Sunday and public holiday penalty rated in the retail and hospitality industries. LUKAS COCH

Fair Work locks in Sunday penalty rate cuts

THE FAIR Work Commission has locked in its decision to cut Sunday penalty rates for workers in the retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy sectors.

The changes were first announced in February and sparked fierce opposition from the union movement over the following months.

The new rates will begin to come into effect on July 1, starting with a 5% cut and then dropping further each year until permanent and casual Sunday wages across all four sectors are at their reduced levels by either July 1 2019 or 2020.

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Full-time fast food employees will be hit the hardest, with their Sunday penalty rates being reduced from their current level of 150% of the minimum wage to 125% by July 1, 2019.

The Australian Retailers Association welcomed the decision yesterday, but executive director Russell Zimmerman said retailers would be disappointed by the excessive length of the transitional arrangements.

"The announced arrangements will only hinder the benefit to employment and growth within the sector," he said.

"The Commission found that a reduction in penalty rates will allow retailers to extend staff working hours and increase employment across the board, therefore these sluggish arrangements will unnecessarily delay the creation of new retail jobs."

PENALTY FIGHT: An example of the ads that will be running across Flynn over the next month.
PENALTY FIGHT: An example of the ads that will be running across Flynn over the next month. SDA

The Association indicated it would further challenge any attempts by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which is strongly opposing the cuts, to defer the decision's implementation through the courts.

Meanwhile, Queensland ALP Senator Chris Ketter repeated his call for Gladstone-based Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd to oppose the cuts.

"Ken O'Dowd has the opportunity to cross the floor in Parliament next week and support Labor's bill to protect weekend penalty rates," Sen Ketter said.

"With record low wages growth, workers can't afford a pay cut and neither can our regional economies."

Senator Ketter again pointed to figures released by the McKell Institute he said showed millions of dollars would leave the electorate of Flynn as a result of the decision.

Full Sunday penalty rate cuts (to be implemented by 2020)

  • Retail permanent: 200% to 150%
  • Retail casual: 200% to 175%
  • Hospitality permanent: 175% to 150%
  • Hospitality casual: No change
  • Fast-food permanent: 150% to 125%
  • Fast-food casual: 175% to 150%
  • Pharmacy permanent: 200% to 150%
  • Pharmacy casual: 200% to 175%  


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